Tag Archives: Department of Justice

Paul Manafort fails in one court, likely to fail in the other court as well

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. refused Tuesday to throw out criminal charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. Judge rejects Manafort claim that Mueller overreaching in probe:

Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the indictment “falls squarely within that portion of the authority granted to the Special Counsel that Manafort finds unobjectionable,” namely the order to investigate any links coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign.

“Manafort was, at one time, not merely ‘associated with,’ but the chairman of, the Presidential campaign, and his work on behalf of the Russia-backed Ukrainian political party and connections to other Russian figures are matters of public record. It was logical and appropriate for investigators tasked with the investigation of ‘any links’ between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign to direct their attention to him,” the judge wrote.

Manafort had argued that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein improperly gave Mueller authority to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from” the investigation of collusion with Russia. His lawyers said that violated Justice Department regulations which specify that a special counsel is appointed to investigate a specific matter.

What Rosenstein gave Mueller, Manafort’s lawyers said, amounted to “a blank check to be filled in after the fact.”

Jackson’s decision rejecting that claim also said the special counsel rules are for the internal management of the Justice Department and do not create any right to sue. Even if they did establish such a right, she said, Mueller didn’t violate them.

Judge Jackson has set a trial date in this case to begin September 17. Judge sets Sept. 17 trial date for Manafort on Mueller charges.

Mueller filed similar criminal charges in Alexandria, Virginia, and on May 4, Manafort’s lawyers urged Federal District Court Judge T.S. Ellis to toss them out, too. Ellis appeared to be somewhat receptive to their argument, taunting members of Mueller’s team.

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud. Well, the government does. You really care about what information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump or lead to his prosecution or impeachment or whatever. That’s what you’re really interested in,” he said.

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Senate Judiciary Committee releases Donald Trump, Jr. transcripts

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday released 1,800 pages of interview transcripts (.pdf) from Donald Trump Jr.’s testimony about a controversial meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer who has since admitted to being an “informant” for the Kremlin.

Donny Jr. was interviewed, not under oath, and not particularly aggressively questioned by committee staff.

Donny Jr. pulled an “Ollie North” with repeated denials of being able to recall details that a witness who has prepped for his testimony would be expected to be able to recall, or could refresh his recollection by referring to documents. 54 things Donald Trump Jr. couldn’t ‘recall’ or ‘remember’ in his testimony:

If there’s one thing Donald Trump Jr. cleared up with his congressional testimony, it’s that he doesn’t remember a lot of things.

In a newly released transcript of his testimony, Trump repeatedly couched his answers about that June 2016 Trump Tower meeting by saying he did not “remember” or that he didn’t “recall” certain things. Even when he was pretty sure, he’d say “not that I recall” or something like that. The result was a pretty cagey piece of testimony.

Below is a list of 54 substantive issues on which Trump cited his lack of a memory:

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Senate Intelligence Committee refutes House Intelligence Committee whitewash report n Russia

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s leaders said Wednesday they believed that the intelligence community’s 2017 assessment of election meddling was correct, breaking with Midnight Run Devin Nunes and compromised Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee who questioned the conclusion that the Russians were trying to help President Donald Trump get elected.

The Republican House Intelligence Committee’s whitewash report now stands alone as a highly partisan attempt to exonerate the Trump campaign, and a glaring failure to perform its constitutional duty of congressional oversight. It may also constitute acting as accessories to a conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Donald Trump has relied upon the wild conspiracy theories concocted by Rep. Nunes in coordination with the White House, and the House committee’s bogus whitewash report in attacking the Special Counsel’s Russia investigation.

Rep. Devin Nunes should immediately be removed as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and every Republican member on the committee voted out of office this November.

Politico reports, Senate intelligence leaders: Russians schemed to help Trump:

Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday endorsed the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 presidential election to help President Donald Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton.

It’s a powerful bipartisan endorsement of a conclusion that had been called into question by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee, who have accused intelligence agencies of failing to employ proper “tradecraft” when they concluded Russia came to support Trump’s candidacy. Instead, it’s the Republicans on the House panel who find themselves isolated in their position in what has become an increasingly antagonistic relationship with the FBI and Justice Department.

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Cohen payments get curiouser and curiouser (Updated)

Last week we were left wondering how Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels attorney, got his hands on Michael Cohen’s financial information, which appeared to come from a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). Avenatti’s memo was quickly confirmed by news media outlets.

We still don’t know how Avenatti got his hands on the SAR report, but we now know how the media was able to confirm the financial information in his memo so quickly: a government whistleblower provided the news media with a copy of the SAR report.

The New Yorker reports, Missing Files Motivated the Leak of Michael Cohen’s Financial Records:

Last week, several news outlets obtained financial records showing that Michael Cohen, President Trump’s personal attorney, had used a shell company to receive payments from various firms with business before the Trump Administration. In the days since, there has been much speculation about who leaked the confidential documents, and the Treasury Department’s inspector general has launched a probe to find the source. That source, a law-enforcement official, is speaking publicly for the first time, to The New Yorker, to explain the motivation: the official had grown alarmed after being unable to find two important reports on Cohen’s financial activity in a government database. The official, worried that the information was being withheld from law enforcement, released the remaining documents.

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The Trump Swamp: ‘pay to play’ corruption

Over the weekend the New York Times and the Washington Post did some excellent investigative reporting into the shady finances of Donald Trump and his consigliere Michael Cohn. The more we learn about Cohn’s “pay to play” scheme, and the two pending lawsuits challenging Trump’s “pay tp play” scheme under the emoluments clauses of the U.S. Constitution, the more this feckless GOP-controlled Congress has an obligation to investigate Trump’s tax records and financial dealings as president to “drain the swamp”: this is the most corrupt administration in recent American history.

Steve Benen has a decent short summary, The closer one looks at Trump’s finances, the louder the questions become:

Last summer, Donald Trump sat down with the New York Times, which asked whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller will have crossed “a red line” if the investigation into the Russia scandal extends to include examinations of the resident’s finances. “I would say yeah. I would say yes,” he replied, adding, “I think that’s a violation.”

Naturally, this generated no shortage of speculation as to why Trump is so concerned about scrutiny of his finances. For that matter, there’s no reason to separate questions about the president’s finances with the Russia scandal – because as Rachel Maddow has explained on her show more than once, there’s an amazing number of people from Russia who’ve purchased Trump properties over the years. (My personal favorite is the story of Dmitry Rybolovlev, the fertilizer king, who purchased a derelict Florida estate from the future president at an extreme markup.)

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Rep. Devin Nunes would endanger a top-secret intelligence source in his quest to obstruct justice in the Russia investigation

The New York Times reported last week that top Justice Department and FBI officials “suspect that some GOP lawmakers were using their oversight authority to gain intelligence” about the Special Counsel’s evidence and work product in the Russia probe that could be handed over to the White House.

As I previously explained, GOP House Freedom Caucus members are accessories to a conspiracy for obstruction of justice.

But no one has been more blatant in his attempts to obstruct justice than Midnight Run Devin Nunes (R-CA), Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Daily Kos reported Nunes threatens to hold Sessions ‘in contempt’ for not turning over documents he doesn’t even read:

[Nunes] has routinely demanded documents from the Department of Justice be handed over to him that, given the chance to review instead of actually take into his possession, he has declined to read.

Unfortunately, the fact that Nunes chairs the House Intelligence Committee is more than just a perverse joke by the universe, since he’s wielding his ignorance like a battering ram against the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference.

On Sunday, Nunes threatened anew to hold a Justice Department official “in contempt” of Congress for not producing more documents he has no interest in actually reading. This time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions found himself in the crosshairs alongside Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has previously earned Nunes’ uninformed ire.

“The only thing left to do is we have to move quickly to hold the attorney general of the United States in contempt and that is what I will press for this week,” Nunes told Fox News.

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